Not long ago I watched a video on social media showing a room full of women in a guided drumming class drumming and moving to their beats. My first thought was “How fun! I want to do that!” I mean, who doesn’t want to feel like a rock star?
Cardio drumming classes, such as Drums Alive and Pound, have been around for a few years. But, the benefits you receive when you take this type of class are so much greater than those of your average aerobics class. For one thing, everyone is smiling and having a ball! It doesn’t surprise me that this trend has come around now and is especially popular with women because drums put us in synch with Mother Earth. In fact, in ancient cultures sacred drumming was performed by women.
Drums have been used in every culture for many purposes from religious rituals and other ceremonies, to sporting events, and as a way to communicate or signal. Shamans used drumming as a means of reaching an altered or trance-like state so that they can connect with the spirit dimension. Drumming has also been used therapeutically since ancient times.
Your Brain on Drums
Drumming is a great workout for your brain and actually can make you smarter because when you drum you access your entire brain. Research shows that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain actually synchronizes the left and right hemispheres. So, when the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere of your brain begin to pulsate together, your inner guidance system – or intuition – becomes stronger.
And listening to drum sounds regularly can have the same effect as drumming itself.
The sound of drumming generates new neuronal connections in all parts of the brain. The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become. This leads to a deeper sense of self-awareness.
Drumming also appears to synchronize the lower areas of the brain (non-verbal) with the frontal cortex (language and reasoning). This integration produces feelings of insight and certainty.
For these reasons therapeutic drumming may be a powerful tool in helping retrain the brains of people who have some level of damage or impairment, such as with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), after a stroke, or where there is neurological disease such as Parkinson’s.
Finally, drumming can induce a natural “high” by increasing Alpha brain waves. When the brain changes from Beta waves (concentration) to Alpha waves, you feel calm and relaxed.
As such, Alpha waves can also produce feelings of well-being and even euphoria, which may help people who suffer from mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.
This same Alpha activity is associated with meditation and other integrative modes of consciousness.
10 Health Reasons to Start Drumming
Drumming can have positive effects on your health and may help with many conditions from stress, fatigue, and anxiety, to hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, addiction, and even cancer.
Here’s why drumming is good for you:
- Makes you happy. Participate in a drum circle or take a cardio drumming class and you will see how happy it makes you. Drumming releases endorphins, enkephalins and Alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with general feelings of well-being and euphoria.
- Induces deep relaxation. In one study, blood samples from participants who participated in an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal in stress hormones.
- Helps control chronic pain. Drumming can certainly serve as a distraction from pain. And, it promotes the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, which are the body’s own morphine-like painkillers.
- Boosts your immune system. Studies show that drumming circles boost the immune system. Barry Bittman, MD, neurologist and President of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute, has shown that group drumming actually increases natural T-cells, which help the body combat cancer as well as other viruses, including AIDS.
- Creates a sense of connectedness. Drumming circles and group drumming classes provide an opportunity for “synchronicity” in that you connect with your own spirit at a deeper level while also connecting with other like-minded people.
- Aligns your body and mind with the natural world. The Greek origin of the word “rhythm” is “to flow.” Drumming allows you to flow with the rhythms of life by simply feeling the beat.
- Provides a way to access a higher power. Shamans often use drumming as a means to integrate mind, body and spirit. They focus on the whole body and then integrate the healing at both the physical and spiritual level by drumming, which connects spiritual forces.
- Releases negative feelings. The act of drumming can serve as a form of self-expression. You can literally drum out your feelings. When held, negative emotions can form energy blockages. The physical stimulation of hitting the drums can help remove those blockages. Drumming has even been used therapeutically to help addicts deal with their emotions.
- Puts you in the present moment. While drumming you are moving your awareness toward the flow of life. When you are flowing with the rhythm of life you cannot be caught up in your past or worrying about your future.
- Allows for personal transformation. Drumming stimulates creative expression. When you drum in a group, you not only get to self-express, but you get feedback from the other drummers. It’s the equivalent of talk therapy! Drum circles provide a means of exploring your inner self, and expanding your consciousness while being part of a community.
Have you ever tried drumming? Please share your experiences with me in the comments section.
This is a great article, and very comprehensive, however it makes many claims without providing references to evidence to support these claims.
Please could you add references, as I am currently researching this area and unfortunately without references this article is not usable
What about the neighbors who have to listen to this drumming banging going on across the street. It is not therapeutic to me with metastatic breast cancer and a husband with PTSD.
I have been trained to facilitate drum circles and the idea is NOT to BANG on drums. They are instruments capable of making many sounds that range from very quiet to very loud, just like instruments from a symphony orchestra. Some drums are low in pitch, others are higher, percussion instruments like rattles and chimes can all contribute to making beautiful controlled volume music. If you are in a facilitate drum circle that addresses this, like I do. Some drum circles are loud and banging, but mine are not. I am trained in “HealthRhythms” which is a for healing purposes and is often used in clinical settings to promote healing and recovery. The positive healing effects are scientifically backed. Please don’t judge this activity based on assumptions, and try to be open to learn more about options available..
Very accurate and well written article. I touched a Djembe drum April 2, 2022 at a Caregivers retreat; in love.
Thanks for sharing the benefits with so many others!
I have been a drummer in many capacities for over 40 years. I would relish the idea of translating my knowledge and love of rhythm and drumming to positive participation by others for their physical, emotional or other types of healing. How / Where can I receive some training in how to actually lead Drum Therapy sessions?
Dear @PeteSechler, Dr. Northup, and others. There are several organizations that teach people how to become either a drum circle facilitator or a drum therapist. I have taken both types of training and am now certified with Drums and Disabiities. I don’t do drum circles but I created customized health and wellness programs that rock (Next Stage Drumming) and I have a drum ministry through my church. I also play percussion in my church band and with others and I’m a Toca Percussion Artist. I drum about 5 times a week (with people and on my own) and the health benefits are amazing! Plus, hand drumming is easy and loads of fun! Feel free to reach out!
My name is Dr. Ron Neuhauser and I am a multiple award winning pro drummer from the California bay area, martial arts sensei, and retired mental health specialist (PhD in behavioral psych, BS in Org. psych). I am also an Army veteran and have been facilitating percussion /drum/music therapy groups and classes at the VA and several special education schools for many years. I can testify through 52 years of personal experience playing the drums (40 pro now, on TV, radio, CDs, demo tapes, many students,) that all of the benefits of drumming that you talk about in the above article are absolutely TRUE !! I have experienced profound transformation in myself and many musicians / drummers throughout my career in the music industry and mental health field ! I currently teach drums part time at the Guitar Center, play live and in sessions with many well known bay area artists, and conduct seminars on drum/percussion therapy (and play an annual concert with other doctor friends). Please feel free to contact me and maybe we can talk about how I can assist your organization ! Take care and keep on drumming….it is a universal language and a gift of healing from above !
I did. The experience was wonderful. It was in 2013…when I went to REHAB. I havnt drank since then. I am going to have my own home soon..I will hire a drumming guide..at least once a month..for the entire family..
to enjoy..I loved it..I never forgot about it..
Hi,I have a brian injury and have epilepsy ,blind and no co ordination in my left arm,after a road accident 30 years ago,could playing drums be any help to me? or too late now? Thankyou
I believe it never too late to start. I have a brain injury from a brain tumor and late effect of epilepsy. Drumming has helped me, makes me happy.
It is never too late, and drumming is scientifically backed to enhance wellness and healing, including support to brain activity and physical coordination. There are so many options including playing a standing drum with a mallet with one hand, or playing rattles or chimes. I do recommend looking into drum circles led by trained facilitators. They can offer drumming tips, provide drums and percussion instruments to explore and use, control the volume, engage everyone, and understand how to guide orchestration to allow for creative self-expression and beautiful music making. Good luck!
Hello, i have a GOD GIVEN TALENT TO PLAY AND ENJOY THE PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT.i really cant explain what the feeling is when i play certain songs. The band i play in ,classic rock you know. Example, every time we play “La Bamba” by Richie Valenz…. I CRY AND FEEL HUGE ENDORPHINS. AND ADRENALINE BEING RELEASED!!!!! I USUALLY SCREAM TOO IN ENJOYMENT!!!!!!! TINGLING UP MY SPINE TO THE TOP OF MY HEAD!!!!!!! THAT IS WONDERFUL. NORMAL? NOT SURE. BUT I LOVE IT❤
Is there a reference list for these claims? I like to look into some of these ideas in more detail. Thank you!
the frequency of the sound, released from the drum synchronises with the brain waves of the listener, causing a sort of hypnosis. at this state they can put what they want into your brain.
Hi Dr. Northrup,
Thanks for taking the time to share the benefits of drumming with us! As a tongue drummer and djembe enthusiast, I especially like the part where you call out the neural connections and the way the brainwaves sort of sync with the rhythm.
I remember a PBS special many years ago where they hooked up a drummer in a marching band to a polar heart rate monitor and tracked his heart rate when he heard the drumline start warming up across the field. It was so interesting that his heart rate increased above 100 BPM just hearing the drums (not yet playing and marching). So cool. Love your work and thanks again!
Cheers, -Ali B.
I have directed many Samba groups for the last 20 years and all the benefits you’ve outlined have been there for me and my fellow musicians, from youngsters in primary schools to over 80s. I don’t have the scientific vocabulary to have said a lot of what you’ve written but have always believed that music, for me drumming, and the performing arts in general are far more important to society than is generally realised. One tragedy, at least in Great Britain, is that funding for the arts is generally being cut at a time when more people need these benefits.
Keep it up. W.A. drumming is so mush better than just beating on something.
I attended a drumming workshop with Sufi master Adnan Sarhan a few years ago, but did not pursue drumming or dancing at the time. During this covid crisis and feeling very tense and negative, I looked him up on youtube. Today I put in my earbuds and listened to his incredible drumming, got up and danced, and almost immediately felt better. Highly recommend.
Hi Dr. Northrup, I was introduced to your work years ago by my sister, and have been following your insightful instagram posts for some time. It is one of the only social media feeds I can watch now that makes me feel better instead of more anxious. I have also been attending drum circles for a few years and have only just recently handcrafted my own drum and drumstick. It’s wonderful to see a respected medical professional advocate drumming! I know the vibrations of many drums can and do facilitate miracles, and even drumming alone in my backyard brings a level of peace and connectedness that few other things can. Ellise P
Thanks for this great overview of drumming and it’s beneficial effects.
I have been both playing drums (rhythm) as a professional percussionist and advocating and practicing rhythm therapy for 25 years. In fact this is my only form of income. Back when I began this journey, little was known about the drum, although this is not quite right because the traditional earth cultures have been using this instrument for many thousands of years for healing and shamanic work (as we know). The science behind drumming is now being revealed with enough “scientific” and anecdotal evidence collated and collected to validate what I myself and many other early rhythm practitioners have been expousing for many many years. When doctors come on board to reiterate and validate what us field practitioners have been experiencing, sharing and practicing for many years, it makes our role and our job a little easier. Thank you for posting this article on your sight. It’s very valuable and I will use it as a link. ~ shon klose ~
YES to everything in this article. I began West African drumming last October, and the feeling of wellness and serenity is remarkable. I do have a music and dance background, so drumming was not difficult for me to learn — and it’s every bit as joyous as music and dance. I love the satisfaction of my hands being coordinated, feeling the rhythm — the hearbeat, the PULSE — and sharing the energy of syncopation.
Keep it up. W.A. drumming is so mush better than just beating on something.
I absolutely LOVE this article and the comments I’m reading. I majored in music at Shepherd College and Berklee College of Music. And, after graduating, found an African drumming class when teaching privately at a high school. I felt like I had discovered the roots of all music learning and healing! After every class I felt better and clear minded. So much so, that I started a program called Rhythm Kids for young children in hopes that they could have the experience that took me too long to discover. I am proud to say that Rhythm Kids is now being offered worldwide through Music Together, an internationally acclaimed early-childhood music development company. And I get to hear from people how children with emotional issues are focused, happy and engaged. I’ve been a fan of yours Dr. Northrup for some time and am so thankful to have found this article.
Hi Dr. Christiane,
I am about to release a set of workshops I have developed focused on using hand drumming circles to help kids with ASD. As your article highlights a drumming program also beneficial for nearly everyone, but am hoping the communication and sensory aspects of my program will benefit people on the spectrum significantly.
I recently graduated from a Bachelor of Music here in Western Australia, prior to which I did a bachelor of Science, majoring in Cognitive Neuroscience and Social Psychology – very excited to be putting what I have learnt into action and start giving back to the community.
Do you happen to have any journal articles or references you could share with me regarding the information you have outlined in this article? If it is okay I would love to quote you on my website as some further reading for my students and parents.
Thank you very much,
I AM CAREGIVING MY SICK HUSBAND AND FIND THAT WHEN I’M IN MY DRUMMING CIRCLE I AM OUT OF MY ANXIETY OVER HIS ILLNESS.
I have chronic pain from a pinched nerve (sciatic) in my back. I tried cardio drumming, but it made the back pain worse. The drumming I read about here looks like we would be sitting rather than moving in different positions around the ball we use for the drum in cardio. An introduction to the Drumming Circle is being offered at my local Senior Center. I turned 80 in September and try to stay active with exercises like spinning and yoga, so I’m very interested in finding out what the Drumming Circle entails and hoping it doesn’t include quick movements that will irritate my chronic painful sciatic nerve. Thanks.
I’m a drum circle facilitator and drum circles don’t normally include movement. It’s a seated activity and as the article mentions, may offer you a natural pain killer. All the the best to you on your drum journey.
I have never played in a drum circle but I do have a rock drum kit and every time I play with my band I get all the same feelings you talk about. At times it feels like time slows down and I’m much more in touch not just with the music but life itself.
At the age of 63 I fulfilled something on my bucket list, I started taking drum lessons! After a month I had to get my own drum kit. It’s been a year and I’m still going. I love it. I love the way playing makes me feel, I love the sound and it’s just so much fun. It really gets the brain working as your hands and feet are doing different things. I’ve also started doing some hand drums at our community center. Although very different, I love that too. It’s a more peaceful type of playing, somewhat meditating. So no matter your age it’s never too late to try something new even if it’s not the norm. I’m known as the rockin grandma by my instructor who is also in her early 60’s and awesome.
My Mum and I were introduced to shamanic drumming and we go to drumming workshops at weekends. I’ve purchased shamanic drums for us as a Christmas present to ourselves. Lovely sound. I ordered padded drum bags which fit perfectly so we’re ready to go to our next workshop. I now sage smudge my home too since attending these workshops as sage is regularly burnt there. It clears negativity and is anti-bacterial I believe too.
Hi, i’m from India . I am in a situation where i need to set up my drums within a four walled room with an A/C and even a bed to sleep during the nights.Does breathing those skins of the drum affect our health ?(As the room will be closed and the A/C will be on).Please help me out.
No, breathing the animal skins of drums cannot affect your health.
I’m not a MD but I can’t possibly imagine how a natural or synthetic drum head could hurt you
There have been rare instances where animal skins that have not been properly treated have generated natural anthrax, and people have died because of this. Again, this is extremely rare. This should not discourage anyone from drumming.
I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of benefits to drumming, especially that while drumming you have access to your entire brain. My oldest daughter has been looking for a hobby that she can focus on and get a break from school. I think this would be a great way for her to continue to learn and expand her mind and her skills, but also a way for her to learn a new skill. I’ll have to look into getting her a custom drum for Christmas as a way to get started!
Soreness is a good thing! It means your muscles are getting stronger. Try working out as you normally do but if the pain is too hard to bare then take it easier on yourself.
So interesting. I joined a drumming circle 6 months ago, and didn’t understand the experience which was off the charts… feeling so connected and accepted by these fellow drummers …. maybe you just explained it. THANK YOU!! My life was very short of like minded people until then.
I believe this has to do with entrainment– as you drum together in rhythm, your own hearts and bodies begin to entrain to the same beat. And this always feels SO satisfying. We humans are herd creatures and we need each other. Especially when we’re having fun together. Or when we need the support of others during trying times. And when we are having trying times, that is precisely when we need to drum , or dance, or cook, or just hang out, with like minded souls.
Thank you so much for your reply Dr. Northrup. I love that… I shared the link to your article with our Drum Maker who coordinates our group. I am excited for other members to read it because you do such a beautiful job of explaining the dynamics.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, your article is very informative, and I believe it is for a purpose I’m on your page today.
I’m a drummer (not a professional though) and always felt that I need to use my skill for a cause that adds value.
I’ve been planning on a workshop where participants will be clapping, tapping, or producing sounds on any objects they feel comfortable. After reading our article, I feel confident.
My idea is to bring out a rhythmic motion where it reflects participants’ current state and then transforms into a higher positive state through a systematic approach. I hope I could reference your article while I’m presenting if it’s fine with you.
Btw, I’m still working for a tagline/headline to kick start. If you have any comments in general, thoughts please let me know.
I believe this is a most wonderful idea. What you are describing is using drumming to raise the vibration of a group. This is called “coherence”. When you set up a high frequency, others rise to meet it. It’s physics. And it uplifts those in alignment. And is very healthy. Even metronomes do it. Check this out!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v5eBf2KwF8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v5eBf2KwF8
Feel free to reference this blog. Just make sure you credit it to http://www.drnorthrup.com
And enjoy this service to humanity that you are providing!
Amazing piece. My name is Katy Lantz but really its Kay Flava. I’ve been a drummer for my entire life, only up until three years ago, I had never actually played them. That was when god gave me a coach! My mom who sings in a choir of Angels at her church had a crush on the bands drummer. I often went to the jazz bar with her to see him play. Richie! She told me that god was telling her to reach out to him. I instantly agreed and told her I was sure god wanted him to teach me the drums. Turns out they never even dated. He was kinda messed up BUT when she finally asked him about lessons for me (knowing he needed any extra money) that is when the magic started. I had my first drum kit 2 weeks later and have been in the pocket ever since.
I have had type 1 diabetes for 37 years now, but my body doesn’t feel 37 years sick anymore. I cure my daily diabetic discomfort with my drums. I sing and drum too!
And now, after a 15 year hiatus after a fruitless 6 year stint at community college, I have returned to finish for my BS in Alternative Medicine! (I know! Calling it a BS DOESN’T HELP!)
The class that I finish in two weeks is Relaxation and Stress Reduction. It’s my favorite class yet! For our final project we are to design and present our own stress reduction program. For the f i rst time, I will be presenting my dream baby of two years…”SNAREPY”! I will share your link too! Wish me luck! T h anks f o r further inspiration!
Snarepy!! Brilliant. What an AMAZING story and post. Thank you SO much for sharing this here. I love it. You have a wonderful sense of humor!!
I began hand drumming in a drum circle after toxic mold exposure turned my life upside down with chronic fatigue, insomnia and numerous other health deficits. I quickly found that the rhythm of the drums began lifting my energy. Hand drumming, along with natural remedies and acupuncture gave me my life back. That was 15 years ago and I’m still an active participant. Hand drumming is actually my best form of meditation because I am so present and so in the moment, the past and future do not exist in the 3 hours of drumming that feels like 15 minutes. It also has many social benefits, as our regular participants have become like family. So much so that our annual holiday traditions are now drum circles. In fact, hand drumming has changed my life so much, my last request in my will is to have a drum circle send off!
So happy to see your post about this, and obvious endorsement of hand drumming. Hopefully, that will erode the stigma of a hippy culture that drumming seems to conjure up (my Mom could never understand my love of drumming). Yet in reality, many 55+ are feeling several of the health benefits you describe above. There is a health insurer in Pennsylvania that also bought drums as part of a getting healthy program for seniors. Now, that’s the type of health care we need — not more pills or sterile tech.
Drumming is such an ancient and healing practice. You have captured the experience so beautifully. Thank you for this great comment. Amazing about that health insurer. Right on track!!
These are questions that have puzzled exercise scientists for some time, and studies have not confirmed one way or the other whether exercise will make your skin look younger.
Health is being physical social and mental well being while being free from illness specific fitness is performing specific activities at high level without becoming tired easily general fitness is performing everyday activities without becoming tired easily.
I totally agree that Drumming is beneficial therapy. I am a 65-year old guy with Parkinson’s Disease who loves to drum. (not a drummer) The first time I played a djembe at a local Drum Circle, I felt a rush of elation sending a message to my brain “This is working, pay attention!”
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004. I have been playing the djembe since around 2010.
in addition to weekly “lessons” in drumming at a local community 55+ center, I also accompany a group of folks who like to sing (not a choir). They sing random, popular and traditional songs, and I just pick up the rhythm and thump along. I also join in a jam session at a local coffee shop once in a while, doing the same thing. It’s good exercise for the brain, as it requires conscious effort tol isten to the music and pick up the beat. We also have a singing group specifically for Parkinson’s people, so I’m keeping busy.
I wish I could get the whole world drumming, but I can’t even get my own family interested. They did indulge me though, for my 65th birthday they let me have a Drum Circle. We had 55 people on the drums! It was truly awe inspiring.
Keep spreading the word, …da-da-dada – dut-dut-dada-da
Oh this is SO GOOD!! It’s interesting, isn’t it– how often one’s family doesn’t share one’s passion even when it’s so clearly beneficial and fun. Part of karma, I suppose. Anyway, I love this post. And I know that it will help a LOT of people.
I have loved the drums for a very long time. Several years ago I started Reiki drumming which proved to be a huge benefit for those who came in for reiki. The reiki filled drum vibration was like having an organ massage, which is what participants told me. I just recently started a drum circle which I hope will continue to grow. Drumming is such an amazing release .
The Beauty of playing a hand drum is amazing, the connection is so natural from the wood the drum came from and the skin that’s on top that was made from an animal. Both at one point had living souls and moved onto to a different purpose and to live and provide energy in different way. This article is amazing and well written, has definitely educated me a difference sense and giving more Love for drumming. Ashe !
I’d like to add that synthetic drums also allow one to connect with the rhythm and others. All types of drums and percussion can create such a special blend, it’s like nothing else. I think it’s key to find what resonates with you — be it djembe, conga, synthetic or natural, shakers, bells, etc., etc. — the choices are as varied as people. 🙂
So delighted to hear this ! Yes, hand drumming is a wonderful healing activity. Good Luck with the drum circle and keep spreading the word.
My son is getting older and I want to get him a hobby! I didn’t know drumming could boost your immune system and increases your T-cell production. I’ll have to keep that in mind and find some drum lessons he would like!
I,ve been a drummer for 20 years. This accelerates my brain and provides additional stimulation to the mind and soul. When I bust out on the practice pad my hands get super quick. My skills on actual drums are on par..when im beaming I’m double speed but even at a normal level my hands get extremely fast but it’s all about the groove
I discovered drumming (specifically, the djembe, a hand drum from West Africa) in 2009 at a caregivers conference and immediately signed up for classes. I lost my husband to Alzheimer’s a year and a half later. I don’t know how I would have been able to make it through those extremely difficult days and the time after his death without the benefits of drumming and the supportive community that came from it. I didn’t know it at the time, but interestingly, this most heart-wrenching period of my life held the seed for my future–drumming. I’ve facilitated drum circles and taught djembe classes. I arrange performance pieces and lead/perform in several different groups. I’ve been playing for 10 years now and can’t imagine life without drums. There’s a physicality in it that reminds me at the cellular level that we’re all here, just living and matching the pulse of the universe.
Amazing comment. And such a beautiful example of something healing and uplifting coming from loss. Thank you for sharing!
I play drums, and I feel great after I play, even just for a few minutes
I’ve been playing drums and percussion instruments for 26yrs, off and on. I grew up have bad anxiety attacks, but don’t take any kind of medicine for it. I guess you could say that the drums saved my life. There are way to many benefits of drum therapy to mention. Within the past couple of years I’ve done a little contract work. I didn’t know what it was all about at first. Other then teaching the school students other art based projects, I added music into the mix. I designed a percussion based music program. I added elements that are both beneficial and create the love for music. My music program is a performing art music program, which incorporates together both; drum therapy and dance movement therapy combined.
Students enjoy the interactive therapy session that reduces, tension, stress and anxiety, and is highly beneficial for those with; ADHD, ADD, Autism, and neurological disorders. It’s an interactive rhythmic entrainment intervention, that helps students:
Students create music through a hands-on approach. Performing drummers and dancers recognize how music and changes in music effect each other. (reciprocal learning)
Senses are engaged unanimously in this type of learning.
Growing up taking music in high school, I failed terribly, the system was set up for failure. I’ve eliminated this type of teaching style from my program. I don’t have any formal training in music, but get asked to do work for people with letters after their name. It’s a privilege to utilize my artistic and music abilities to help students.
Recently at a Special Needs Conference I’ve had a chance to meet and talk with Temple Grandin, I gave her my methodology behind my music program, she told me, “you could do good in a kids life”. That was one of the best compliments I’ve ever got from such an inspirational person. That was a confirmation to me that I was also doing a good job.
I look forward to doing more good work in the neerby communities if any are interested. I recently moved to the United States, between Detroit and Port Huron Michigan.
Art, Culture, and Music Therapy Teacher
Holy Healing!! Temple Grandin? WONDERFUL. I took SO many music lessons– and yet– never really learned to MAKE music until relatively recently. And so your method really speaks to me. Well done!! And thank you SO much for this incredible gift to your students and to the planet.
One year later, i have just read your article on drumming and music, i am interested what you have done in the past 12 months. I am studying to be a teacher and i am currently doing an assignment. But i came across Dr Northrup site and read your article. Have you done any further music therapy with special needs children?
I would like to hear more of your success.
Within the past year since moving to new location, I’ve been working at a factory full time and a part time job also, so I haven’t worked with the school students for about an year now. A lot of people I’ve spoken with are highly interested in drum therapy, for themselves or a loved one, including my sister, in which my nephew who is non-verbal and is on the spectrum.
Last year just before ending my last sessions with the students, I was asked to come back to the school for couple more times. All because a student on the spectrum saw me packing up the instruments, as I was to slow to draw the stage curtains. He wanted to have a percussion session instead of gym class, but I had an art project with another class. His words I’ll never forget, he said, “I need the drums”. Didn’t say, I want to play the drums, have music class, etc. “I need the drums”, so I came back for a couple more times. I have many wonderful experiences, don’t want to leave out any, here are a few.
One class l had set up for I was going to sing them a couple of songs while playing the drums, just to give them more inspiration on what also can be done while drumming. The class was held back to finish their math, although one student from the class that was on the spectrum got to come in. His “E.A.teacher asked if it was alright, the gym teacher and myself agreed he could come in, so the E.A. left. He heard my microphone making a little noise, I told him it was my microphone, the gym teacher asked if he wanted to go one the stage, so I took him up. He held the mic tapped out three beats on the mic, said a couple of words, tapped three beats, said his words, he done this amazing song for us before the rest of the class came in. Sometimes I brought my vintage p.a. System also.
Another time I had my microphone hooked up for the 8th graders. A lot of times that I came in an E.A. would bring her 2nd grade student in, also on the spectrum, it was alright by me, and I’m sure she knew it was really beneficial for him. She would do activities and probably words or songs with him off to the side. While students were drumming and dancing one student asked if he wanted to say something on the mic. He started to speak on the microphone, were as I never heard this boy speak before, then I thought to myself, this is what he needs, he can hear himself, others can hear him. I thought of different ways this can be used as a teaching tool also.
We have to forget about the diagnosis, and what the disability is. Build on their strengths and you’ll see magic happen from these students, I know I have.
I hope this gives you a little insight into drum therapy. Maybe next time I’ll share a bite of perspective of the drum through my Ojibwe culture.
Thank you, and best wishes,
I can attest to the benefits named above. Drumming is helping me relieve stress, focus, decrease depression & relieve pain.
Funnily enough the first day I did drumming I got sinus infection followed by a chest infection and then the next week a stomach cramp that put me in hospital so I don’t believe it improves immune system but it might be flushing things out. However what I love about it is that you feel a sense of tribal primal togetherness. I love the sound and the joint participation and having our chief teaching us and how we can laugh whey we get it wrong but keep going. I started it because of a longing to get back to a feeling of tribe. All it needed was a fire burning in the circle. Drumming, yoga, dancing and pottery to me are heavenly.
I listen to shamanic drumming regularly, when seeking insight, or as a healing tool when I’m emotionally stirred. It is such an important part of my life..couldn’t go without it.
I have severe PTSD from the military and I am a female. I have been playing the drums for about 5 months now and I will tell you emphatically that I am thinking better and FEELING a sense of love in my heart, a rhythmic flow to my life and overall improvement being able to think a little quicker… I was displaying symptoms of an 80 year old but now I am feeling younger and younger. I’m so grateful to have found my passion!
I am so happy for your Kristina! Drumming does return life to oneself and makes it even better I think. Thank you for serving too.
as a kit player of nearly 40yrs uts really has helped me social circles have many drum friends and after a gig on z high still love the way we have ti be the rock of the vand so many jokes but the drummer is z real big cog without us they are lost studied brushes and other techniques,and now at 66 still love playing,
This is a great article. I never knew about all the wonderful things drumming can do. I have lupus and my immune system is compromised. I always loved drums and I was taught somewhat about the conga drum from my cousin. I forgot about it for years and one day I said I want to do this. I got a drum from my daughter for my birthday and I practice everyday. I can’t concentrate much but by playing the drum I can sit for 2 hrs almost everyday. I love it so much. I play music from my I pad from u tube and record it on my phone. My daughter has friends that have a coffee house and my 2 friends and myself will probably play there. I love it so much. It’s never too late to do anything. Thank you for sharing this article. It made me so happy to read this.
I wouldn’t be surprised if others will soon be joining in at the coffee house. So happy it’s helped you. Keep it up and others will learn of drummings wonderful healing properties too. 🙂
Thank you for your contributions, I am a fan. I am a 30 year veteran Afro-Cuban drum teacher. My work had morphed into therapeutic drumming and I agree with your 10 benefits. I work with special needs people in many areas including ex-cons, which I love. Math skills increase with drumming over time as do all mental functions. Also a sense of self-confidence. If the teacher or facilitator is aware, she/he will draw out the participant’s genius, whatever level they are at, and foster their contribution to drumming as something of value. I see this especially with the ex-cons as they come broken and self-loathing often. Given a little encouragement they brighten up, lighten up and have an experience of being worthy and appreciated. I love my work and the opportunities I am given to serve.
Director, RhythmSoul Drumming
Wow! What a wonderful service you offer, Patty. I hadn’t realized ex-cons were benefitting from hand drumming too, but why not? I think it’s great for anyone actually. Sounds like sharing your gift is helping to rebuild lives. Kudos. My original facilitator also taught us Afro-Cuban rhythms which I love.
Research grants if your area. The state of local Arts council is a place to start.
Best of luck.
Patty Aulik, Director
Wow! I never knew that drumming can make one smarter alongside being able to heal physically and emotionally. I was planning a mother-daughter trip for the weekend and your article gave me an idea. I will find a studio that offers drumming lessons so that not only will I be able to learn a new skill but have fun doing it with my mom as well. https://powerdrummingcanada.com/
Greetings from Ohio, Thank you Christine for sharing this information and affirming what I already knew about drumming. I wish we had more access to places to drum and an unlimited number of drums to share. I have been in drumming circles, drummed for entertainment, and drummed for healing for the past 20 years. My mother introduced me to it and she loves drumming in a circle or anywhere, she is 81. If you know of some Grant Money available for me to acquire Drums to volunteer at our local Jouvenile Detention Center, Hospital and Nursing Homes, I would appreciate any info you have. thanks again for putting this out there, it’s the best kept secret around in my opinion.
I never knew that drumming can induce a natural “high” by giving your brain a lot of alpha waves. My wife and I have been thinking of getting our son into a new hobby while he is in high school so he doesn’t get into any worse habits. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should get our son into drumming!
I love Drums Alive! I can be tired and cranky and after a drumming class feel renewed. I suffer from anxiety and PTSD and it such a useful tool for alleviating stress and keeping you grounded n the present. I go once a week but if they offered more I would be there.
Thanks for the very informative article.
I love drumming. I play in a couple of Samba bands and I am establishing a project where I deliver facilitated drum circles to various at-risk groups.
Do you have any references for the studies which you mentioned? I ask because I am compiling some literature which demonstrates some of the benefits of drumming and I wish to include as much evidence as possible.
Hi Christiane, You’re the most inspirational resource for both active and aspiring drummers-for-health that I’ve found surfing on the IT since 1996. I understand why virtually all the drumming/spiritual/therapy venues are oriented in a social format – but as an asocial introvert for 90 years, I’ve been practicing an innovated water drum meditation for the past seven years that might interest anyone exploring solo spiritual drum meditation. My latest videos feature a mindfulness on nataraja’s dance of creation to the rhythm of our human heart beat. Google: “primordial+rhythm+meditation” for my website.
You can access some of Dr. Bitman’s studies at the NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11191041. Actually, if you search his name and the benefits of hand drumming that should also provide you with references for the health benefits of drumming. I like your idea by the way, of delivering facilitated drum circles to at risk groups. Sounds like a life changing service. Best of wishes with it.
Drumming is so beneficial, I’m glad you found a way to still partake in it, even if you are a self-proclaimed asocial introvert. As an HSP (highly sensitive person) I am generally uncomfortable in large gatherings. However, a drum circle is quite different. The only conversation is among the drums and I feel quite comfortable. Doing this for 15 years has also helped me get over shyness. The drums speaking heart to heart has created such a bond with these people, they are like family. Our connection is strong yet in many cases we’ve spoken few words.
I have been Drumming since I saw Ringo Starr with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I have since explored many other styles of Drumming and in 1994 found myself entrenched in the Drumming of the Native American Healers in my region of Canada. The experiences were profound and re-shaped my life. I am now putting together a program that integrates Drumming with Reiki. It has been a very emotional day as I research the ways in which Drumming can influence our health and well-being.
~Lonnie L. Jones
Certified Reiki Master and Drummer
Feeling joyful is one of the best feelings one could have. Playing Drum can give a feeling of joyful by lowering your stress down and making your mood light. Drum playing is my favorite time pass and I love doing that. Knowing such amazing health benefits of playing drum make me more enthusiastic and happy. Thanks !!
Hi , My name is Margie. I have been drumming since the 1990’s. As someone who struggles with ptsd/depression, I find it helps me to focus – the repeated rhythms are a meditation. I get exercise, work my left and right brain, connect with others on a deeper level than just talking, and It always lifts my self esteem. I go to a circle each month and I look forward to it.
Love love love love love this!
Thank you Christiane for sharing this!
I am a professional drummer and health advocate
I am obsessed w the health benefits of drumming!
I offer an online program that teaches people how to play the frame drum – an ancient women’s drum – and have included this writing in my program!
Drumming workshops for Schools, Colleges, Kindergartens,Drum circles for community events,Staff motivation,Icebreakers for Corporate team building activities,Interactive drumming events
Awesome read! I actually linked back to this article from my blog, as I run a drumming website. Thank you!
It sounds exactly what I need. How can I find groups that practice this type of healing?
Hi, you can look on the HealthRHYTHMS facebook page for facilitators in your area, or do a google search. First Sound Workshops (facebook)
I am 68 years of age and still enjoy playing a kit of drums even though my wife hates drums.
I now play in the loft usually when she goes out of the house. It feels absolutely great!
I started playing drums at an early age and played semi-pro for 10 years and sold my kit of drums aged 25 then I met my wife in 1977.
The feeling came back about 5 years ago and I felt the need to play again – wonderful!
Love this! Thank you for wording so well. I’m a POUND master trainer and our classes are so much more than keeping fit. the power of music and drumming within a fitness class is revolutionary. Mind, body, inner rockstar!
My name is Martin, I have been playing drums since I was 16 years old. I am now 57 years old, but I feel beaten by aches & pains, associated with my drumming. I am desperate to play again after a year off because of the following symptoms. Neck and shoulder pain. After an hour or so, my neck feels like its burning, and goes tight and into a spasm. I have tried massage, chiropractor, physio, just about everything, but I so want to get back playing. I know I have a bad posture, and I am trying to keep upright. My doctor say’s its cervical spondilosis, and or, Fibra mialga, but I want to prove him wrong, and back behind a kit. Can ANYONE give me some advice please??
Hi Martin, I just read your comment and thought “maybe it’s time to change the type of your drum”… I’m no specialist at all, but I started joining occasional drum-meditation-evenings, and up until then I thought “drum is drum” – but the lady who leads the evenings explained that there are “fire drums”, that are mor about whats going on “outside” – like the african drums that are very common – and the shamanic drums she uses, they “take you back to yourself” so you are centered within yourself. Maybe you would like to go and explore different kinds of drums, if you haven’t already, and have a fell, what FEELS right for now? Whishing you all the best. Melanie
Hi Martin. I am a drumming circle facilitator, promoting the holistic benefits of drumming within my community & felt compelled to comment. Don’t give up drumming! Perhaps research/explore other drums that will work better for you right now. Djembe? Frame drum? Get friends or family members to join you. Maybe you can consider starting up a drumming circle in your area-benefiting yourself & others. I hope that this inspires you in some way. All the best to you, Rock Star!
Don’t give up on the drums Martin. As a guitarist of many years I was looking into realistic sounding drums to record with. I went down the route of drum machines and programming drum hits but was left frustrated at the tediousness of the process and mediocre results. Not having the room for a full drum kit, I started experimenting with a small drum pad keyboard sounds and sampled hits from my drum machine. Playing in real time I almost immediately found things much more enjoyable and the results were also much more natural sounding to my ear. As a by product, I also experienced a feeling of wellbeing after longish sessions. My point is that I don’t believe that you necessarily need to wield a full drum kit to feel the benefits. I am also looking at getting a cajon, which might not suit someone with back problems but there is a model that you can sit across your lap. I’m sure that with a bit of research you could find something rhythmically satisfying without having to resort to a full kit. Good luck.
Posture is a neurological event, it’s not consciously driven. In order to change the root of posture the reason your neurology is altering it must be found. The difficulty here is this info is driven by a few pathways; pain & neuro reflexes being the primary ones.
The pain part… regarding chronic pain, not acute injury- we only feel pain that is second third or fourth tier; our system is designed to block the primary pain by avoidance, distortion, etc.. so the pain that is causing the distorted posture is not felt by you directly and if the posture involves a forward and or rotated head we have a short list. Forward and/or rotated head posture is pain from the brainstem and above, or neuropathic pain. The good news is there are two primary issues that are usually found here, jaw pain and upper neck (c1,c2) pain. Other issues from below may also contribute, like neuro reflex info from the feet, hips, gut, etc.. but those are a separate conversation. There may be other known injury, these may contribute as well, and all of this may also cause a dystrophic state (kind of a neurology is in over it’s head so it freaks out in levels type of thing).
Fix the pain and the neuro-reflex issues, the body will stand up straight immediately. The issue is finding it; without a series of convoluted tests we can grab low hanging fruit (jaw and neck).
Jaw. Jaw pain is easily remedied in the short term for testing reasons. stick a tongue depressor across between your teeth, or two or three- (try each variation) and this should turn off (this is temporary for testing sake ) the jaw loop.
Neck. There are fibers that will, when stimulated, use of the pathways pain uses to travel up it’s messages. We want to use of the phone lines so pain gets a busy signal- caveat, it works for about 3 minutes. lightly slap the back and sides of your upper neck for 10sec. now stick in the tongue blades, now stand up… straighter? on heels more? then you located primary issues that need addressing.
the treatments and options past that are a bigger conversation, as there is a lot of useless stuff out there, but atlasprofilax or nucca / AO chiro will fix the upper neck however you may need pt as well for the whole thing…and a there are a few therapies that will fix the jaw, most are temporary however you can just drum with a bite guard of the same thickness and it will not cost 5k and these. If you are having sleep breathing issues like hypopnea or apnea (take an oximetry test or buy a contec o2 monitor on eBay ) and have low O2 during the night the upper neck tension and jaw tension will continue, another separate conversation… hope that helps as a framework for guidance.
Hey, Martin…I, too, am almost 57 yrs old and, like you, picked up the drums when I was 16. I loved playing Rock n’ Roll, Heavy Metal, Punk, Classic Rock…stuff like that. My body has been abused a bit through racing motocross, off-roading accidents, freeway motorcycle accidents, commercial deep-sea diving, ten years in the Army, drug rehab and eighteen years of physically fighting with the criminally insane while working at a state institution. Anyway, that whole time I drummed where and when I could, but I have two shoulders that spontaneously pop out of the sockets if I move them wrong and the pain I feel is about an 11/10 when that happens. My hands, however, still work pretty good. If you can “hunt and peck” while typing on a computer keyboard, then you may be able to drum and sound just as good as ever…or really close. Using my PC, a good mechanical keyboard, good quality headphones (or a good set of speakers), freely available on youtube “drumless” tracks of my favorite music and a program called “DvDrum”, I am having a blast sounding like I did with a full kit back in the day. NOTE: I am not affiliated in any way with this drumming program…it simply works for me, that’s all I’m saying. I am sure there are other drumming programs available. Martin, I will say that playing drums on a keyboard will take some getting used to…it was difficult to translate arm, leg, feet and wrist movements into just my fingers tapping keys, but it happened with practice. If I could send you a demo track of me actually playing using this method, your mind would be blown…I play everything from Elton John to Metallica to Green Day to Devo to Kool and the Gang and the Jackson 5 and all in between…even the Beatles, The Who and CCR…and it sounds better than my actual drum kit because I can download Neil Peart’s or John Bonham’s kit to get the right sound to play Rush or Led Zeppelin. That’s all I’ll say about that. It works for me and I hope it works for you… Our bodies have limits, man. But that’s no reason to accept not ever playing the drums again. Good luck, Martin
Great subject, Dr. Northrup. Since I am doing some personal research on drumming and health, I wonder whether you might supply some citations for the research mentioned above.
Thanks and best,
Michael Drake wrote the above, almost verbatim back in 2006.
My friend has been trying to get me to join a drumming circle for quite a while. Seeing your name, Dr. Northrup attached to this article has convinced me I need to try it. Geri, (kitty’s mom)
I’ve been drumming for 47 years and several personality tests, including Briggs Meyers, that I’ve taken show that I am not right or left hemisphere dominant. I am a data architect, which is very logical, but I am also very creative and have hobbies making music and art.
I have also noticed that if I don’t drum for a while, I get depressed.
I love how you have wired your brain and body to be ambidextrous as it were. Thanks so much for this amazing testimonial. I’d be curious to know if you were born left handed. Or kicked or batted with your left hand. I suspect you have a very creative and unusual brain structure.
Thank you for sharing the benefits of drumming. I will share this post with my Facebook friends….
The word “rhythm” comes from the Greek for “flow.” When chimps come to a waterfall they will often go nuts, pound on the resonant buttress roots of trees and swing about excitedly on branches. After all, the water is playing, why shouldn’t we?
The Thundergods of Portland play very hard, beside the Willamette River, all year every Sunday night. Peace, love, joy and drum.
The Thundergods of Portland inspires me. I think we need some Thundergods in Portland Maine playing beside the Atlantic ocean. Thanks for this wonderful comment.
I’ve been playing hand drums… Mostly djembe for over 20 years. Every word Dr. Northrup says and more is true
Most specifically within the past five or six years I’ve started playing very regularly with drummers were better than me. So that means usually once or twice a week for two hours I am totally concentrating On my timing and the pattern on playing. That puts me told me in the present moment and absolutely prevents me from thinking about the past or worrying about the future For the whole time that I’m playing. I’ve noticed, as a result, my level of internal chatter and negative self talk is probably decreased by 50 to 25%.
What type of drum do you use? I have a djembe but like lower tones.
I play the djembe and ashiko primarily but I also play frame drums. I am a amateur and don’t play nearly enough. Any drum, in my humble opinion, will do. I always feel energized during (and afterr) the spiritual drummimg groups I attend! I never knew there was scientific reasoning behind it! What I love about the djembe is that at this point I don’t have to think or concentrate. I just play!
Remember, you can tune your DJEMBE to boost the low tones. It’s all available to you. If you need help, ask a friend expert DJEMBE tuner! Good luck and bless you for playing djembe. http://www.drumconnection.com
My first experience with drumming was when I was fortunate enough to stay a traditional native village in the North West Territories of Canada. My in-laws had a teaching post. Since they were trusted and respected in the community we were all invited to a community feast and drumming celebration. I swear I went into a trance after listening to the drumming for about 1 hour. Mind you I might have become tired and sleepy after the feast of caribou, bannock and Jello. Yes, jello was a surprise.
My son bought a drumming kit as a teenager, and I used to sneak into his room when he wasn’t at home and play his drums. I swear I always felt so relaxed after playing his drums. My husband chuckled at my lack of rhythm, but I did get better over time.
Then I bought a jemba (spelling?) for my son. It turned out he didn’t like it because of the tone, but I took it to a local jemba drumming circle that was being held in the community. The instructor was very good and I soon found I was drumming along in the circle with a great sense of rhythm and feeling of accomplishment. The connection you feel to others in the drumming circle must also be good for mental health. Again, I experienced such profound relaxation at this evening outing. I slept so deeply after it. I would think some people might get stimulated, and so this might not be a sleep remedy. However, until you try it you won’t know. I have gone to a few drumming circles with different leaders. Many provide the drums for beginners, so this wouldn’t be a barrier to joining. Thanks so much for your article. It motivated me to get out and go drumming again.
I was quite athletic as a child and young adult, I never learned how to play any instrument. When I turned 29, I didn’t want that to be my story at 30, so I took private drum lessons for a year. I loved them. I moved to another city and it no longer fit into my space, but I had gotten pretty good at it. Looking forward to revisiting at sine point.
I fell in love with Taiko drumming during an Obon festival I attended a few years ago. Since then, I have taken classes and workshops, and bought a drum to practice at home. Everything you said about drumming is true. I even use shamanic drumming in my sound healing sessions because it opens the heart chakra. Thank you for the excellent article.
I had drumming at a memory/life celebration ceremony in honor of my youngest son who had walked past us the year before. We used drums to welcome folks and as a background to prayers as we scattered his ashes on the mountain and into the river. It was confusing to some. Unnecessary and unnerving to a few. And downright scary to others. Yet, in its simplicity, it was profound, soothing and comforting to the rest of us.. Mother Earth’s heartbeat. Nothing sends out unconditional love more than that.
So moving reading your story ,many blessings ..I’m so happy to have drumming in my life.
I love the term ” walked past us”. And this ceremony sounds so profound and wonderful. Thank you.
A very good context here Dr. Christine. I have added another dimension in using drum circles and their related culture dances to bring together people not only to drum & dance but to raise money for good causes. I’d like to share my mission statement.
THE HISTORY OF “DRUMS from HEAVEN”
DRUMS from HEAVEN became a reality on October 29’th, 2005.
The original idea was to organize Saddle Brook’s first drum circle and bring together school age kids, getting them off the street and teaching them to communicate through the rhythm of the drum. As the building blocks were being put into place to form our new little community, a devastating storm hit the southern United States. Hurricane Katrina blasted through Louisianna and other southern states causing horrifying damage and loss of life. My feelings grew very strong towards helping some of the survivors. It was decided we would now do our first drum circle as a huge benefit and raise money to send to school age kids and their families in need. I felt like we were doing a heavenly deed, alas, the name DRUMS from HEAVEN was born. Through the efforts of about 100 people, drummers and or dancers alike, we came together for an extraoidinary night of percussion. We were able to raise $1500.
on Halloween weekend at the first DRUMS from HEAVEN drum circle. Everyone who came felt the vibe of goodness.
Our community of drummers & dancers have grown now to crowds of up to 200 over the 10 years of existence.
Drum circles have come a long way over the last 20 years. They are showing up all over the place. We have gone way beyond the campfire drum circle! There are many new people entering the drumming community as it evolves into many new areas in society. It makes me happy to see percussion sounds being used in music therapy programs. I’ve used it for special needs students. There are Hospitals who have therapeutic programs which involve drumming and the use of percussion instruments as part of their therapy.
For those of us who have experienced a drum circle we know the rewarding feeling we all get when we participate. We get energized, we get relaxed. We forget about our busy lives while we drum. Some of us meditate and focus on their inner being. Others feel the rhythms penetrate through their bodies. Some of us connect through drum and dance. The most important thing we are doing is communicating and making one another feel good.
What is DRUMS from HEAVEN? The people who come together at DRUMS from HEAVEN are all special. They are YOU! We are people who care about other peoples needs. We drum and dance for the fun of it, we make each other happy and while we do this we try and help raise money for a worthy cause. We are Heavenly drummers!
A typical DRUMS from HEAVEN usually features a very entertaining interactive free style drum circle welcoming anyone to join in with no drumming experience needed. Some events are mixed in with short cultural performances. People can enjoy a relaxing and energizing time by participating in the drum and dance circle or watching and listening to the variety of world drum rhythms. Belly dancers and African style or any kind of dancers are welcome.
DRUMS from HEAVEN has provided venues for the purpose of raising funds for selected charitable causes. All funds raised, minus costs are turned over to that charitable need. Over the past 10 years, I am proud to say we have raiser over $60,000 for a variety of needy families and worthy organizations. Please come experience DRUMS from HEAVEN!
Sing on brother…Play on drummer… TommyPurpleHaze
FANTASTIC POST!!! Drum on oh Heavenly TOMMY PURPLE HAZE!!
I am a part of a cardio drumming group in Wyandotte MI and I LOVE IT!
We have the best time, everyone in class is great and I’ve become a complete drumming junkie! I’m there four times a week and it has truly, changed my life!!
I really want to start,but can’t find where to buy a drum. I live in Lakeland, Florida. Help.
You can go to your local music store or purchase a drum online at http://www.x8drums.com. It’s important to get the right size drum and there are videos on the X8 Drums site to help you with that. I use a Djembe with a 12″ head (That’s the diameter measurement of the top of the drum.). For people with larger hands or a larger frame, I’d go with a drum with a 14″ head. Most of my drums are made by Toca percussion. Remo drums are good, too. I do drumming events and drum therapy in the Raleigh, NC area and I do private sessions virtually as well. There are 2 women I know of in Florida, however. Check for groups on MeetUp.com.
Here in South Florida dancing is a huge part of the drum circle culture. We integrate some African rhythms with a lot of improvisation and creative expression through the drums and dancing. These are leaderless drum circles with minimal structure and the results are amazing. You can catch a glimpse here. We drum outdoors in dowtown Delray Beach every Wed night at Old School Square Park. https://youtu.be/V1TtBJ4cQlo
Thank you Dr. Northrup for this informative article about the benefits of drumming. I have been a Drum Circle Facilitator for many years now and I am very excited to see that drumming has hit the mainstream globally! Most of my teachers were Native Grandmothers, other Elder women, and talented men too. I have carried on a lineage passed down to me. Drum on! Blessings, Julie. http://www.thevillagedrumLLC.com
Thank you dear Dr. N. This is such a life affirming piece. I am a Celtic Priestess of Bridget and I lead women in Womb Healing ceremonies with drumming to connect to ancestor teachers. The drum has been part of my Irish culture for millennia, the sound of the drum connects us to our mother’s heartbeat, her first communication with us in utero and perhaps the one we need to get back to in order to heal mother/child history. The drum is THE universal instrument, for reasons that are both known and unknown. Yours in Gratitude, Nadiya Nottingham
This is the truth! I have had a rough year, lost my job, death of a pet, family problems, car accident and some other minor issues. But during this time I was able to join an all female drumming band (Batala) and every Saturday morning nothing else matters but hitting my drum. I would probably be hiding under my bed feeling hopeless if it weren’t for those rehearsals.
I am going to share, share, share this article with all the wonderful women I drum with, and more importantly the women who have been wanting to but haven’t yet. I’m a drum student and a drum teacher. We have a women’s percussion performance group so between classes and practices I probably drum 5 days a week. It is joyful, stress relieving and so much fun. I’ve made wonderful lifetime friends and we laugh so much sometimes my face hurts!
it helps to me in psoriatis problem, if i play skin in my hand 100 percent clean
I am a drummer for horses and an equine reiki healer.
I visit people’s horses and drum fro them in the UK. The healing experience for the horse is an incredibly powerful and direct one. They carry both emotional and physical stress in the bodies, working with the drum is a very non-invasive way of providing healing. Their reactions can range from meditative to curious and playful interaction. I consider myself privileged to share these times. I totally concur the benefits above, on their behalf too.
Thank you for sharing this work.
I have drums, a venue and the willingness to learn but where do I find out about running a drumming circle, is it really a group sitting together for an hour drumming a series of beats? I am delighted the benefits of drumming have come to light, my drum has hung on the wall far too long and I would love to start a circle. Any help and advice would be appreciated, I am in rural France.
If you’d like to become a trained drum circle facilitator, you can obtain training through HealthRhythms (www.healthrhythms.org. Might only be in the US, though,). You can also try Christine Stevens, http://www.ubdrumcircles.com (She is affiliated with HealthRhythms), or Google Jim Donovan. Both Christine and Jim offer online training. Arthur Hull has training as well. I am also a member of the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild (www.dcfg.org). Good luck and drum on!
Hi, off topic, but is this Doris Staelhe who used to tutor me in high school? Just curious.
Hi, thanks for your wonderful article!! We (http://www.inrhythm.com.au) have just returned from 2 weeks of drumming sessions within remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory of Australia, working with the school kids. The therapeutic effects of our programs touch lives on so many levels and we are blessed to drum every day. Your article is a fantastic exposure of the healing power of this modality! Thanks! Here is a quick vid of what some of the kids thought https://web.facebook.com/MCPS.Bathurst/videos/618667091615391/
wow i just love this ..i created a format called DRUMBA and it came about to help my mother who has parkenisons and it has made a world of difference….Allthe drum formats are really taking off Drumns Alive ..Drum Fit .Pound. ck out my website http://www.drumbafitness.com thank you so much i am going to print and pass out to my menbers
I actuallyJust got home from a djembe lesson.
I’ve been playing over 20 years. It’s awesome and one of my absolute favorite things in life. I got my niece and drum when she was eight years old and taught her a few things… Including the handover hand pattern which require should keep alternating between your right and left hand She used some …. but after a few years …it ended up in the back of her closet years…
A few years later when she was 15, and there’s stepmother was in the process of dying from cancer… Claire starts his drumming on the tabletop a very fast and well executed handover hand. I was amazed because I knew she hadn’t been actively drumming in a while. She just said to me oh I just do this in study hall all the time ….. I just laughed. I know drumming is healing and that pattern was in the back of her head and she brought it out at a time when she needed it.
I was wondering why I became so obsessed with Pound! I fell in love with it the first class. I am always happy after just one song! I never knew it was an actual brain reason. I can’t wait to share this information with the members at my studio. We are doing more good for ourselves then just burning calories!
I took some pole dancing classes a while ago. And yes– it is incredibly difficult. Mostly it involves CORE STRENGTH. And the vast majority of exercises do NOT increase core strength. So– I would say, it has NOTHING to do with your age. It has everything to do with core strength. Try classical Pilates. It makes a world of different. When I first started, I could barely do a roll up. Now, 15 years later, I do all the advanced moves. And I keep getting stronger and more flexible.
Thanks for this article! I love seeing more people encouraging people and particularly women to drum. I am part of a women’s drumming performance group, Les Femmes de Kissidugu. Women We are trying to encourage women to drum more. For more years, cultures around the world discouraged women from drumming and told them horrible things like, if they drummed, they would be barren, or it would make their eggs fry, or they would have stillborns. Our group is part of a worldwide movement dispelling these myths and encouraging women to step up to the drum! We are based in Oakland, CA. https://www.facebook.com/lesfemmesdekissidugu/
It is always good to read about the benefits of group rhythm circles for all kinds of populations. As a trained HealthRhythms facilitator, I have had the opportunity to put theory to practice and experience the results. The more the word gets out, the more people will get on board with this fun and beneficial activity. Thank you for helping spread the word.
We have maintained the same Native American-based drum circle in south Florida for over ten years now, as well as others. While we are ceremonialists, the benefits you cite from social drumming are present in this type of circle as well. In addition, at a point during the ceremony I will offer drum healing to those who have interest. Rather than take up space here, if you are interested in some of the experiences of participants, follow this link:
You will also read about the protocols and benefits, as well as what qualifies me to do this ceremony and others. Come join us!
I have been participating in these Native American Drumming Circles since 2007. They are incredibly powerful and offer a deeply spiritual experience. The healing energy is profound. It is an honor to participate. The Lakota prayer songs we sing are amazing and my life has been changed for the better through participating.
HI Rick– thank you SO much for this reply. And also for including the link. Reading this gave me the chills. A sure sign of “truth.” Christiane
West African drumming is my passion. I agree with all your points! I’m in an all-wimmin drum troupe that gathers weekly to practice–they quickly became my “soul sisters.” I attend 3 hours of classes weekly–just can hardly get enough of this wonderful, ancient practice.
How wonderful. My daughter did West African dance in college. The drummers from Mali were other- worldly. I love hearing what you’re doing. Thank you. Christiane
I know the healing power of drumming. I received a drum massage a few years ago. A virus 3 years prior left me deaf in my right ear. I had seen doctors, including an ENT twice and audiologist. The ENT doctor arranged for a hearing aid and I wasn’t ready to give up. By accident, through a drum massage for chronic pain issues from Cyndi Boot from (www.rhythmicmemory.com), my ear opened up and I have been hearing from that ear ever since. It has also helped me with sinus issues as well. She also goes into residential facilities, assisted living and nursing homes and has drum circles for the elderly and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and she and the staff of those places see results. I am a believer in the healing power of drumming and thankful for the experience. I was beginning to lose hope.
What an amazing story. I am transfixed. Thank you so much for sharing this. Your experience will help so many people. Christiane
I drum weekly with people with dementia and Alzheimers and other disabilities. It makes my day just as much as theirs. It is such a joy to be able to drum! If you had a bad day before starting to drum you can’t even think about it. Really lifts your spirit.
Cheri, I want to thank you for drumming with people that have dementia and Alzheimer’s. I am a hospice volunteer and these are the “forgotten” people. For some of them even their own families don’t visit them and if they do it is far and few between. Just heart breaking for me when I see this. God bless you and the other people that also wrote in this column that they drum with the people who REALLY could use this. And thank you Dr. Northrup for writing about this! I’m going to try and find a group here in the Eau Claire WI area. I’m excited!!!!
Keep us posted Jean. I’m excited for you. Thank you
Jean, a group of us in Eau Claire recently took a class and made our own drums. I already had 6 drums but making my own is also so wonderful! Anyway, we are now in process of forming a regular drumming group. You would certainly be welcome, this is a group of wondrous women. Contact Heather or Deb at the Soulstice Wellness center. All their information is on line. Hope to see you! Ginger
Brilliant article and great reminder to follow the primal passion of our core. We have drum circles on my 70 acre nature retreat an hour outside St. Louis around a fire and it completely restores the soul. The men drum and the women dance in our Goddess power. Thank you for the reminder to schedule another event. I love your valuable articles. Thank you.
Now THAT is just plain heavenly!!!!
I live in St. Louis and would like more info on your retreat.
Thank you Dr. Northrup for sharing your informed perspective!
I have been drumming and making music with Music For People – musicforpeople.org for the last three years and it has changed my life. What a joy! Also, please check out Mary Knysh’s website: http://www.rhythmicconnections.com
She is a goddess of joy who inspires everyone around her with her drum facilitation and improvisation work!
HI Irene, I am so inspired by this post. Thank you so very much.
I really enjoy every moment in my life and every month in one circle of drums is a blessing for me
Loved your comprehensive blog about the benefits of “Rhythmacize”. I’m a trained HealthRHYTHMS (Remo.com) Drum Circle facilitator. I work with folks from 2 to 102 in many settings- schools, mental health, ECE, cancer recovery, memory care, senior living etc. As a Guide, I enjoy & appreciate the experience of all those in Circle. Today’s comments from children, filling in the blank – Rhythm is “nature, love, peace, appreciation, wind, ocean, life & death… everything”, while having fun, putting the unity in CommUnity! I love what I do!! RhythmU, “who yoU are Beat by Beat…”
Great post. Thank you!
Hi Dr. Northrup, thank you so much for all of your wisdom! I am writing a dissertation on the experience of live music and its therapeutic effects. I am wondering if you could share the references for the research done on “the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain actually synchronizes the left and right hemispheres”. Thank you! You are quite an inspiration.
I recently joined a drumming circle that meets right after my NIa dance class (also new to me) and love it. First, the women in the group are amazingly diverse but uniformly wonderful. The dance gets my large muscles loose and my brain relaxed. The drumming takes my brain to a whole other place. Usually after classes I go to dinner with my friend and then go home and write to tap into the unleashed creativity.
Thanks so much Doctor,
You’ve written a wonderful expose on the therapeutic & social benefits of drumming. My drumming partner, Diana Young (who is also a Certified Reiki Master Teacher and Certified Eden Energy Medicine practitioner who incorporates her focusing exercises to all our classes) and I created the Young Fish School of World Drumming in 1997 and have been conducting hands on educational and therapeutic global drumming programs for K-12, community centers, all populations with special needs, etc. We live in RI and are on the Artist Rosters of RISCA/The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, RI Teaching Artist Center, VSA of RI/Very Special Arts for children & teenagers with special needs as well as the NEST grant roster/NEFA’s New England States Touring grants. We have found those with behavioral issues, including teenagers in recovery, benefit greatly from drumming … While in session most children, teens and adults with behavioral issues are far calmer without incident … We would love to share our experiences with you. You can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com … We will create a new Website soon … Thank you so much for your highly informative feature on the positive empowerment people can attain from drumming, RA Fish / Bob
So uplifting and full of hope. Thank you!!
Good on you Christine, I have quite a few of your books and love your work. I am also a drumming facilitator in Australia. My business is Drum4fun.com.au – 2 women run it – me in my 50’s and my business partner in her 60’s We have been drumming for over 40 years combined. If ever you come to Australia – we will happily run a drum circle for you.
So, so true. I do African drumming and it infuses me with joy.
I belonged to a woman’s drumming circle many moons ago. We met once a month in a book store. It was magical and I miss it!!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Drumming and its effects on our whole being. I facilitate drumming event for people of all walks of life and see this reaction on people in many environments including harsh environments like a prison. It is amazing to see a persons transformation when drumming it can happen instantly. It’s can only be good.
I hope that many more medical professionals like yourself promote recreational drumming and its health benefits.
Well said! I started playing percussion in a band about 9 years ago and began experimenting with different techniques to help kids with ADHD issues. I’ve since experienced physical and emotional healing from hand drumming, both personally and with private clients and groups of all ages. I use African drums (Djembes) and a Native American drum with a mallet. The sound waves are awesome and produce healing, clarity, and stress relief – often after just one session. Sorry Big Pharma but drumming is much safer and more effective. Plus, it’s fun! I’m in my 50’s, in really great health, and I’m still rockin’! #drumsnotdrugs
Love the hashtag: #drumsnotdrugs Brilliant. And you right.
I very much need this type of therapy! Any recommendations as to where, or what kind of drums?
Danyel, look on FB or google HealthRHYTHMS in your area. There, you will find drum circles such as is described to participate in that are run by trained facilitators to attain best results. Most supply the drums to use, and offer classes on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Any hand held type of drum, such as frame drums, the djembe, tubano work fine. In the circle, you will see everything from shakers to the bigger instruments like I mentioned. All the best!
Music is the beat of life
Drums are the heartbeat of the earth.
Yes yes yes!
Hi, The drumming I have done which was minimal was fabulous. Its like a meditation with your whole being in synch and totally in the moment. Please can I ask a question on another subject: I have always been in synch with your teachings on age and do not allow my age to dictate to me at all. After three years of kickboxing training which was the toughest training I have ever experienced and I became incredibly strong and fit, I have taken up pole dancing. This makes the kickboxing seem mild as you have to be so incredibly strong. I have always been very physically strong but I am finding that it almost seems that I have reached a strength limit which is very inconvenient as this affects everything you do. I can pick up 25kg of dog food etc, as an example, so I thought I was strong. I am 68 in June and for the first time I am wondering if age has anything to do with this. I dont want to believe it could be true but would really appreciate your comments. thanks so much.
I love and admire that you have started pole dancing. I am about your age and I have allowed my mind to tell me I’m too old to try pole dancing. Thank you for popping that bubble for me.
Janice – reading your comment was so inspirational! Even though you say you feel like you’ve plateaued in strength, you are incredibly strong, probably stronger than I am at 29 (and I’m fit!). I hope you can continue to enjoy and revel in the amount of physical power that you have 🙂
Janice – I admire you for your pole dancing. I know of some women your age that can life 165 pounds!!! Could you possibly work with a trainer to see what can be done to change this for you? You rock!!!! You strike me as someone who will not give up!!!